Take control of your workweek with time blocking.

by Dr. Tim Grivois, Executive Director

Some people don’t need to purchase a book to explain why time blocking, (working on the same kind of task simultaneously) is helpful. But, I am an adult with ADHD, and I needed the book!

What Most People Do Column depicting short bursts of time reserved for many different kinds of tasks. Time Blocking Column depicting larger bands of time for similar kinds of tasks.

As a school principal and now as a consultant to school principals, my schedule is a paradox. While I can decide how I would like to spend my time in ways that I couldn’t as a classroom teacher, I also contend with frequent, urgent, and unpredictable interruptions that often change my plan for the day. 

If I deal with tasks as they come, my work days look like “What Most People Do” on the graphic below. Most weeks, however, I spend an hour on Sunday evening making each day in my week look like the “Time Blocking” column. Working on similar tasks together tends to take far less time. And when the inevitable interruptions happen, returning to the same kind of work is much simpler than switching between many different kinds of tasks.

I have time-blocked every minute of my workweek except for half a day on Thursday and half a day on Friday. I use these time slots for all the stuff I thought I would do but couldn’t get done. Some people would consider that a kind of time-block too, but it just keeps my schedule flexible for when I need to push a grant to Friday instead of my normal writing time.

To start with time blocking, think about how you might change the categories in the graphic. What categories of work do you do? Does any category have an obvious time block you could schedule right now? Hint: If you already have a color-coded calendar, which colors could you bring together to create larger blocks for the same tasks?

Because time-blocking tends to streamline work dramatically, I often help leaders with time-blocking during Technical Assistance Time appointments. Give the strategy a try, and let me know what you think in the comments below!

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